3 Min read
Wordplay with breeds
Herd-Box-Sky. Box-Herd-Sky. BoxShepSky
The latest canine addition to the family had his DNA analyzed. I scanned Simba with my phone on a free App which had varying results, the highest percentage as Belgian Malinois. My husband was curious, so he paid $130 for a kit, swabbed his mouth, and sent it in. The results came by Email in two weeks. The Embark Public Profile with Genetic Breed Result includes five breeds: Belgian Malinois (one of the four Belgian Shepherds), German Shepherd, Boxer, Husky, and Samoyed. The final two explain the curl in his tail and thick white-ish underbelly and back end. Boxer surprised us.
We’re convinced, now that we know his breed history, the up-ear is husky and the floppy-ear is boxer. I don’t think I would have done the DNA kit because, well because. Simba is Simba. Does it matter what he is?
I have not done 23andMe, the human DNA testing, and am leery of it all. I don’t want that info out there and what if they trace some old crime to me? I caved on this for the dog. He’s an innocent, a mix-breed puppy from a Texas litter, so how bad could it be to have it all out there? When I first saw him, he looked like Belgian Malinois.
I admit it’s fun to consider Simba’s perfect mix of five breeds and to learn about the process. The Breed Reveal video is a minute long and explains that they tested the DNA for hundreds of breeds to show what makes Simba uniquely Simba. Now let’s reveal Simba’s breeds. Then they show a family tree, tracing him through parents, four grandparents, and eight great grandparents. One parent is Boxer and Husky. Apparently there is a breed mix called–designer or not–the Boxsky. It’s cute. Simba’s mother is a Boxsky
Working out an appropriate breed name felt the right thing to do. I don’t know much about DNA testing but I learned that dogs have 39 chromosomes compared to humans with 23, and apparently humans and dogs share 84 percent of their DNA. And get this, cats share more with humans at 90 percent; granted this means little out of context. A quick Google skim says this overlap makes both useful animals for study of human disease processes.
Blah blah blah. More about Simba. Predictions is he’ll be 72 pounds. He has 0 percent Wolfiness which is a thing. I can check public profiles of Dogs Like Simba. Kalani was also born in Texas and shares 40% of Simba’s DNA; she is labeled as close family, possibly half sibling, aunt or uncle. If I had to guess, Simba’s dad gets around and found himself another dame, because Kalani’s photo is a younger puppy.
I’m liking the name BelGerBoxSky. It has a ring to it with two-syllable B hybrids: Belger and Boxsky. Sam or Moy or Ed may not have a place, though a syllable could take the past tense like Sky-Ed or Ger-ed, sounding like Jared. Boxed won’t work. Belgerboxsky leaves out the Samoyed but Simba is only 8.3 percent of that breed.
Still this is all sort of weird on some level. Now that I ‘know’ the breeds, I can see bits and pieces I hadn’t understood before. Simba has several trainers and two had owned Belgian Malionois. Alex pointed out the curl in the tail, perplexed. I could not place the submissive and timid nature, a beta and unlike any of our working dogs. I think how my family has done this over the years with each other, with my own children, analyzing body parts from ear lobes to pinkies, or odd habits, or music skills.
Immutable traits seem unfair to critique but doing so with dogs is no big deal. Who’s going to take offense? The owners? The dog doesn’t care. Maybe that’s what we have to learn from dogs. Analyze them to death, figure out lineage or pedigree, expected weight, or wolfiness! These help humans understand him, or so we believe. Maybe it just helps us accept what is. Since the Breed Reveal, Simba is still Simba. Now though, I have an answer for people who ask what he is.
He’s a Belgerboxsky.